“The End of Racism?,” the interview of Dinesh D’Souza by Nicholas Lemann (February/March issue), seems out of place in American Heritage for two reasons. First, it’s not so much history as it is a debate over a current social-political issue. Fine, I can deal with that; history doesn’t have to be ancient history to qualify as such. But second, assuming the quaint principle of reasonable objectivity still has some application in the study of history, Mr. Lemann clearly has no intention of seriously exploring—for the readers’ benefit—the positions of Mr. D’Souza. Instead, he sets out from the beginning to discredit his subject. In the introduction to the interview, Mr. Lemann says Mr. D’Souza’s book “keeps going to ground as agitprop.” That, along with other more oblique slurs, sums up his opinion of Mr. D’Souza’s work. Paraphrased: “Dear Reader, I’m going to ask this racist propagandist some questions, but be sure you understand from the outset that he is beyond the pale and not to be believed.”
If from reading the introduction you still think Mr. Lemann might tip his hat to objectivity, the character and tone of the questions assure you that he won’t. Most of the questions are “in-your-face” confrontational. Can’t you do better?